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Ritsuko Aoki, a hotel clerk, works behind a reception desk displaying a caricature of presidential hopeful Barack Obama along with an "I love Obama" sign, at Hotel Sekumiya in Obama, western Japan, on Feb. 14, 2008.
Ritsuko Aoki, a hotel clerk, works behind a reception desk displaying a caricature of presidential hopeful Barack Obama along with an "I love Obama" sign, at Hotel Sekumiya in Obama, western Japan, on Feb. 14, 2008.
(JUNJI KUROKAWA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

U.S., New Zealand stumbling blocks for Trans-Pacific Partnership

A more assertive Obama administration and a less dogmatic New Zealand government are keys to the successful completion of negotiations aimed at creating a major free-trading bloc involving Canada and 11 other countries on both sides of the Pacific, Japan’s economics minister says.

“I will not comment on domestic issues of the United States. However, the point of concern I have at present is that the White House seems to be losing its grip over the U.S. Congress,” says Akira Amari, who is spearheading Japan’s efforts to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks with a far-reaching trade deal by the end of this year or early in 2015, if possible.